Trudeau on gender-equal cabinet: 'Mindsets take longer to shift'
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, January 22, 2016 6:26AM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 22, 2016 10:29PM EST
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he had plenty of options in selecting Canada's first-ever gender-balanced cabinet, and had no trouble finding enough qualified women to make that balance possible.
The makeup of Trudeau's cabinet was a major topic of conversation on Friday in Davos, at a World Economic Forum panel on women.
Trudeau told the panel that he chose a gender-balanced cabinet because he wanted his Liberal government to better-reflect the broad population it represents. "You're getting better quality of service for citizens out of it," Trudeau said during the panel.
He added that there were "too many" women for him to choose from in selecting his cabinet. "There are great men who aren't in cabinet as well," he added.
The Liberals have 33 female Members of Parliament. Fifteen of those MPs sit on Trudeau's cabinet.
When pressed about the low proportion of women in Canada's Parliament, Trudeau said he couldn't help that only 26 per cent of elected MPs were female. "I don't get to control who gets elected to the House," he said. "But I do get to pick who sits in government."
Trudeau also touted his party's Ask Her to Run campaign, which asked voters ahead to encourage prominent women in their ridings to seek seats in the most recent election.
Trudeau expressed some frustration over finding women to run for a seat in Parliament. For instance, in the case of cabinet minister Chrystia Freeland, Trudeau said he had to do "an awful lot of arm-twisting" with her to convince her to run.
Trudeau said he hopes his gender-balanced cabinet will help encourage more women to run for government.
"We have to shift action quickly and understand that mindsets take longer to shift," he said.
Trudeau was joined on the panel by Melinda Gates, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and two others.
Four-fifths of the attendees in Davos are men, yet the gender parity conference was disproportionately filled with women.
"Men have to be a big part of this conversation," Trudeau said during the panel.
He also identified himself as a feminist, and said men "shouldn't be afraid" to refer to themselves as feminists.
"Men and women should use it to describe themselves anytime they want."